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Scott Eblin offers his take on lessons in the news and his advice on your pressing leadership questions.

How to Get Rid of the Things That Drain You

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Over the weekend I had a great reminder of how much things change over time. I received an email from a coach I worked with back in 2004. She had been cleaning out some files and found a document that she asked me to write for her when we were working together. It was a list of twenty nine things that were draining my energy back then. I was in a bit of a funk in that period and the list included worries about family, health, friends, business – the works really.

As I looked it over, I realized that there were only two things on the list that still bug me – a messy office and messy bookshelves. After nine years of those two, I think I’ve come to terms with the mess.

The rest of the things on the list have been resolved in one way or the other. Honestly, I’d forgotten about most of the things that were top of mind when I wrote it. Of the ones I would have remembered without the reminder, many were resolved because of actions I took. Others just kind of evaporated on their own.

Of course, I have a new (albeit shorter) list today. All of us have things that bug us or weigh on us at any given time. The question is what do we do about it?

By asking me to write down all of my energy drainers, my coach created the opportunity for me to see the patterns and the connections among the items. There were some relatively easy things to do that ended up making a pretty big difference.

While you’re fine tuning your resolutions for the new year, you may want to stop to write down what’s draining you. Keep writing until you run out of ideas. Then, look at the list. What patterns and connections do you see? What are one or two relatively easy things you can do that are likely to make a difference in getting rid of the things that drain you? Start with those and then move on to a couple of more items. If you keep repeating the process, you might just find the list some years from now and realize how much things have changed.

Executive coach Scott Eblin’s goal is to help you succeed at the next level of leadership. Throughout the week, he’ll offer his take on the leadership lessons in the news and his advice on your most pressing leadership questions. A former government executive, Scott is a graduate of Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and is the author of The Next Level: What Insiders Know About Executive Success.

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